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Lastovo, Sunday 12th June

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Carved stoneI think we’ve been lucky today, but you have to have a half-glass full mindset.

Only one bus on Sunday morning at a ridiculous 6.15. We needed to catch that to get back to the dive centre. We mooched around for a little while then hit the hotel and invited ourselves to breakfast.

The charming waiter was very welcoming, but I noticed at the end when I paid he drew me away from the other waiters, and I suspect the hotel won’t see much of the breakfast money.

Boris was all bluster and grumpiness when he showed up at the diving centre. That is, when he got out the front door and saw us waiting. He slouched off for a coffee, and was a bit less gruff when he returned 20 minutes later. We geared up. He found it odd we didn’t have our own equipment (which is why he was worried we were beginners), and didn’t seem to get the fact we were carrying everything on our backs and 20 kg of diving gear was too much trouble. (What would you do with a wet wetsuit? Stick it in your backpack?)

Sylvia asked about a dive computer. He only had one between us – a watch-band type. Whatever depth and time Sylvia was doing, that would be my result as well.

He promised us a great set of dives at a tiny island called Bijelac. (Lastovo has 46 accompanying islands, and they are all minute.) Bijelac is a simple wedge-shaped island entirely of white stone, as big as a house above water, with a very pretty black stone cave through the middle.

Off we zoomed in his 10-seater rubber boat, slicing our way through the islands. Lastovo is way out, and Bijelac is further out past that. I mentioned Lastovo had been a military complex for 50 years. In our racy speedboat/duckie we sped past a huge tunnel carved into the mountain, entrance to a mid-island secret base, accessed via water through the massive arch. Like something out of a James Bond movie. I half-expected a pursuit team of speedboats with henchmen in wetsuit to chase after us….

Cave

The cave at Bijelic was impressive, and covered in purple Gorgonian coral fans, which everyone gets excited about. (They are usually yellow everywhere else here.) Then we swam back along a 55 metre canyon wall. Because the water is so clear you get that infinity feeling. We have deep walls in Australian diving, but the less endless visibility means you miss out of the infinity-and-beyond moment.

But in the end I think we generally have better diving in Australia. Bijelac is one of the best dives around, and we do have better, and certainly a richer marine life, and simply more fish.

At the end Boris took off and left us. I wasn’t sure if we had completed a safety stop, and checked with Sylvia as she had the computer. It took a minute for her response to sink in….it had gone missing, simply come off her wrist unnoticed. Where? No sure.

Oh dear. We waited a few minutes to be sure we had decompressed, then came up. Boris was all bubbly and excited, and it took a minute for the penny to drop when Sylvia told him. (She had shown him her wrist underwater, but he didn’t get it then.) His face fell, and that was the end of the party.

Cave canyon

Afterwards we concluded he had simply ‘borrowed’ someone else’s computer, and now it was missing it wasn’t even a matter of buying a new one. He would have to own up to the borrow, and the loss, and it was a technical diver’s nitrox computer.

The plan for the second dive was scrapped, and we agreed that the computer had disappeared in the first few minutes. There was a chance we would find it if we searched through the weedbeds.

We needed surface time before we could dive again, but Boris geared up again and went straight back in. We had to wait half an hour. Just as we were getting geared up he resurfaced, and said it was not possible to find it.

I thought we had a good chance. Both Sylvia and I had taken photos of each other at the start, so I figured we could be probably get back to the exact spot. (As it turns out, I had taken two photos of her, and the computer was there is the first photo, gone in the second photo.) There was a sharp drop-off, a natural border, which we had not gone near, so the search area was small. I couldn’t be bothered explaining it to Boris, but the surveys we have been doing involve sifting through weeds to find things smaller than the dive computer. If we were in the right spot I was sure we could find it. ) I said I thought we should have a go.

And, like our waiter, Boris had an angle. What would we give him if he found it, given the replacement would be $500? Sylvia said. “Have you already found it?” which he denied, then fished it out when I said we would go in. (He would have had to sat in the boat and wait for us while we searched pointlessly for an hour.)

The fun went out of the day. We gave up on the second dive on this spot and went somewhere else where we could dive unsupervised. Boris had used up air, got water into his dry suit and wasn’t going in again. We went by ourselves, and I just wasn’t interested. You can’t have much of an argument underwater, but we did the best we could. Boris made me wear the dive computer this time, as he had clearly decided Sylvia wasn’t to be trusted. I hitched it on extra tight and we tied it on with a fallback hair scrunchy-thingy. It wasn’t going missing again today….(To top it all it was a very basic dive computer!)

Boris tried to jolly things along on the way back, but it was a pretty flat crew that docked and hauled the gear upstairs to wash and pack.

I ended up paying him some “commission”, but Sylvia and I scrapped the idea of another dive tomorrow with him and will be catching the ferry out to Korkula.

Gorgonian fan

To his credit he worked out that we were getting around without a car, and gave us a lift back to Lastovo, which was nice. He tried really hard to do a good job of winding up the day with some bits and pieces, stamping our dive logs and so on. I would recommend the dive, and I would go with him again.

But I wouldn’t borrow a dive computer from him.

As well as 46 islands, there are 46 churches. We went on a late afternoon stroll down the end of town we had not visited…all of three hundred metres from our accommodation. The souvenir shop was closed. Its owner, Ivan Milat, wasn’t around. We found about a dozen of the churches. Most are the size of a single car garage.

More importantly, we found also a different, unadvertised restaurant. We’re going there tonight, as there’s a good chance Sascha and family will be returning to the same place again tonight, and I can’t face it three nights running.

 

 

(Here is why the gorgonian fan is a bit or a rarity….)

using up an endangered coral

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 12, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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